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Genetics. 2002 Jul;161(3):1279-91.

Two O-linked N-acetylglucosamine transferase genes of Arabidopsis thaliana L. Heynh. have overlapping functions necessary for gamete and seed development.

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Department of Plant Biology and Plant Molecular Genetics Institute, University of Minnesota, 220 Biological Sciences Center, 1445 Gortner Avenue, St Paul, MN 55108, USA.


The Arabidopsis SECRET AGENT (SEC) and SPINDLY (SPY) proteins are similar to animal O-linked N-acetylglucosamine transferases (OGTs). OGTs catalyze the transfer of N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) from UDP-GlcNAc to Ser/Thr residues of proteins. In animals, O-GlcNAcylation has been shown to affect protein activity, stability, and/or localization. SEC protein expressed in Escherichia coli had autocatalytic OGT activity. To determine the function of SEC in plants, two tDNA insertional mutants were identified and analyzed. Although sec mutant plants did not exhibit obvious phenotypes, sec and spy mutations had a synthetic lethal interaction. This lethality was incompletely penetrant in gametes and completely penetrant postfertilization. The rate of both female and male sec spy gamete transmission was higher in plants heterozygous for both mutations than in plants heterozygous for sec and homozygous for spy. Double-mutant embryos aborted at various stages of development and no double-mutant seedlings were obtained. These results indicate that OGT activity is required during gametogenesis and embryogenesis with lethality occurring when parentally derived SEC, SPY, and/or O-GlcNAcylated proteins become limiting.

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